Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to mark the handing over of therapy equipment as part of the Federal Government’s humanitarian gesture for the benefit of the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad

11.08.2020 - Speech

We remain speechless and ashamed in the face of the fates and memories of the survivors. They bear witness to the unbearable brutality which the German Wehrmacht employed with the intention of destroying Leningrad and its inhabitants.

A war crime – committed by us Germans. So barbaric that, particularly in my role as German Foreign Minister, I hardly dare to ask for forgiveness, even 75 years after the end of the war. And yet I hope it will be granted.

The memories of the victims, their stories, tell of courage and solidarity, of the will of this city and its people to survive, of 900 days of desperate but ultimately successful resistance to annihilation.

To acknowledge and build on this – that was the aim of my counterpart Sergey Lavrov and myself when, a year and a half ago, we considered and discussed this issue. And I am delighted to see today that the many discussions have finally culminated in action and produced results that have come in time to benefit the siege survivors.

I ask all of you to regard this as a genuine admission of German responsibility for the injustice inflicted on millions here – driven by our heartfelt desire for reconciliation.

I also assure you that we will continue to invest in the modernisation of the hospital in which siege survivors are treated. And I would like to add that without your dedication on a daily basis, Director Kabanov, and without your support, Governor, we would not have been able to implement this project.

I would therefore like to offer my sincere thanks to you and all those on the Russian and on the German side who have made this humanitarian gesture possible.



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